Shocking Grasp 5E DnD Spell Guide: A Cantrip to Zap Your Opponents

The shocking grasp 5E cantrip is one that might not be quite as well known as heat metal, but there’s a reason that this spell is still going to get a lot of love, especially from casters who love versatility, spells that get bonuses in certain niche situations, or if you’re making a lightning themed spellcaster.

The shocking grasp cantrip is naturally available to Artificers, Sorcerers, and Wizards and the sub-classes of Arcane Tricksters and Eldritch Knights from the get-go. It has some interesting properties so let’s dive right into the exact wording of how the shocking grasp spell is worded in 5th Edition and then the many ways to get the most out of this cantrip.

Shocking Grasp 5E Spell Description

Shocking Grasp

  • Evocation Cantrip
  • Casting Time: 1 action
  • Range: Touch
  • Components: V, S
  • Duration: Instantaneous

Lightning springs from your hand to deliver a shock to a creature you try to touch. Make a melee spell attack against the target. You have advantage on the attack roll if the target is wearing armor made of metal. On a hit, the target takes 1d8 lightning damage, and it can’t take reactions until the start of its next turn.

The spell’s damage increases by 1d8 when you reach 5th level (2d8), 11th level (3d8), and 17th level (4d8).

Can be learned by: Artificers, Sorcerers, Wizards

shocking grasp 5E
I love my hands when they’re loaded with lightning. Great picture of 5E shocking hands from The Sketchy Ginger on DeviantArt.

Breaking Down How To Use Shocking Grasp

There are a few things we should pay special attention to when looking at how the shocking grasp 5E Spell works, and here are some of the big points that jump out at me immediately to keep in mind while using this spell:

  • It does require verbal and somatic components, so the silence spell can stop you from casting this (unless you are a sorcerer with subtle spell)
  • You have advantage on all attack rolls against opponents in metal armor (don’t underestimate this!)
  • This cantrip scales – which means at high level you can do very respectable damage
  • Shocking grasp is a cantrip that requires a touch attack, so you do have to get within range to use it, which can be dicey for Sorcerers and Wizards who are squishy
  • The target loses reactions until its next turn on a hit

Some of these rules for shocking grasp are even more important than they first look. Let’s talk about these point by point and see where this particular bit of magic fits into your character’s spell list.

Requiring Verbal and Somatic Components

This isn’t anything special as most spells have verbal and somatic components, even when they are a touch spell.

This also means if you’re in an area affected by the silence spell then you can’t cast shocking grasp as long as you are in that field. If your DM doesn’t pay attention to spellcasting components rules in their D&D 5E games then don’t worry about it.

Advantage on All Spell Attack Rolls Against Opponents in Metal

I like this a lot. Not only does it make sense, but opponents wearing metal should suffer in some way against lightning. The attacker who is using shocking grasp should get some type of advantage. 

Keep in mind that at higher levels, often times the bad guys have to be characters as opposed to creatures so the DM can customize that NPC to be a bigger challenge to an experienced dnd party. That means armor shows up often in late games and makes the leveled up version of this evocation spell very potentially strong…especially with advantage to hit.

The Cantrip Damage Scales

The 5E shocking grasp ends up moving past the damage a melee attack often does because the damage keeps scaling at high levels, meaning it’s still useful. Since this particular spell has advantage to hit enemies wearing metal (or made of metal) it can still be very useful at higher levels of play.

Touch Attack Means You’re In Melee Range

Not a big deal if you’re an Eldritch Knight or a Bladesinger Wizard (or perhaps even an Arcane Trickster who can disengage as a bonus action) but if you are a squishier build, this is an important detail to keep in mind so you don’t get hit back harder than you can take.

The Target Loses Reaction on a Successful Hit

Don’t underestimate this awesome feature! Reactions are necessary for that Polearm Master + Sentinel feat combo build or for an enemy spellcaster to use counterspell. Taking this away also takes away attacks of opportunity from most 

Common DnD 5E Questions about Shocking Grasp

Can you use twinned spell with shocking grasp?

If you’re going by rules as written (RAW) then no, because the mechanics of how that works means it must be at least level one to determine how many sorcerer points to spend to twin it. If you go by some homebrew rules then most likely using the spell with the twinned spell metamagic will count as a first level wizard spell in that particular circumstance.

When does shocking grasp give advantage on your attack roll?

Whenever your opponent is wearing metal, such as full plate, or is made of metal like the Iron Golem.

What edition of D&D has the best shocking grasp?

Opinions vary, but this lightning cantrip has been relatively solid in 3E, 3.5E, 4E, and 5E meaning it just always stays pretty solid and stable within a system.

So Is Shocking Grasp 5E A Good Spell? (Final Thoughts)

This won’t be for everyone, but it is a very well designed simple cantrip that brings a surprising amount to the table well beyond just dealing some damage with lightning. In my book, shocking grasp is an excellent choice for a cantrip and can provide an outstanding amount of value for a cantrip that keeps paying off even deep into the game!

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